Padres Prospect Interview: Brad Brach

Lake Elsinore, CA: Closer Brad Brach, 24, was drafted in the 42nd-round of the 2008 draft by the Padres. Of the players drafted in round 25 or later, only Dean Anna, Nick Schumacher, Dan Robertson, Zach Herr and Gary Poynter are still with the organization, and with the possible exception of Robertson, none have come close to equaling the success of Brach.

At Monmouth University, a Division III school, Brach was a starter possessing good but not great numbers as a four-year starter. In his two years with the Padres organization, he has saved 77 games in 82 chances, including last year in Fort Wayne where he saved 33 games in 34 chances striking out 82 batters in 63.2 innings for a 1.27 ERA.

This year he has picked up right where he left off with a 5-2 record and a 2.61 ERA. He has struck out 69 batters in 62 innings against only 10 walks and 47 hits.

We caught up with Brach on the eve of him tying the record to get the reasons behind his success.

You were a 42nd round pick, the second to last guy that the Padres selected in the draft and fourth year senior out of a Division III school. What were your expectations coming into pro ball.

Brad Brach: At first, I really didn't know what to expect because I was drafted so late. I just thought that I got this opportunity and had to try to do the best that I could.

I had one more semester left of college and thought I would run with it as far as I could. The odds for guys taken where I am making it were few and far between but I just had to take it and run with it as far as I could.

Now its gotten to a point where I might have a legitimate shot so I really want to see it through.

For someone that has had as many saves as you, its kind of strange that you didn't have one save in college. What has made you so effective, even better as a pro than you were in college?

Brad Brach: To be honest with you, I'm not really sure because when I was in relief my freshman year I was awful. I remember one weekend I recorded one out and five earned runs.

I don't know if it was the mental approach or getting older, but when I got to Arizona that first summer they told me I might be a starter at the end but they were going to put me in the bullpen to begin with and as they kept moving me back in the pen the more comfortable and the better that I performed.

Does it has something to do with the fact that as a closer or set-up guy you know exactly when you are going to come in?

Brad Brach: That did help me a lot because I was so used to a routine being a starter in college and as a closer or set-up guy you can get yourself into the same type of pattern.

Because you know when you are going to come in as opposed to other guys in the middle you have to be ready on the fly.

Could that possibly screw you up when you come up to the big leagues because its usually the middle of the bullpen that you are going to go?

Brad Brach: I don't know, but I would like the opportunity to find out [laughs]. I've been able to concentrate on the games more as my time comes but hopefully there will be no problem changing roles.

You throw three pitches correct; four-seam fastball, splitter and a change?

Brad Brach: Last year it was mainly the four-seamer with more of a slider, but this year I have also been mixing in the other two more, especially the change.

Your velocity is in the low 90's correct?

Brad Brach: Yeah but it has been going up this year its gotten up to around 94 so its creeping up there.

That was leading up to my next question, is the biggest reason for your success the ability to consistently place your fastball on the outside corner and then get them to chase your breaking pitch or splitter?

Brad Brach: I try to be very aggressive in the zone and force the hitter to make bad contact. So on the first pitch they are either going to take it for a strike or not be able to do much with it.

That is a huge advantage to me to get strike one. So if you are going to take a swing at it that is fine and hopefully won't be able to do much with it.

When you talk about a first pitch strike this is not something that is coming down the middle of the plate?

Brad Brach: No, no where I want it is low and away. That is the hardest pitch for a hitter to hit.

So for a right-handed hitter if they swing you thing they are going to hit something weak to second?

Brad Brach: Exactly or to first or to me. Maybe a soft fly ball to right or center but its a tough pitch to drive.

The numbers that you have are very good. What has been your secret about succeeding in the closer's role?

Brad Brach: I really love being out there to get those last three outs. I like the pressure and knowing that its on me. If was in a different role I think I would still have the same mentality, get those three outs as quickly as I can.

I am actually not that fired up when I'm out there, pretty calm and collected. I just try to be really aggressive.

This is your third year in the organization and I think Robert Lara has caught you for all three years so that must be a big comfort to you?

Brad Brach: Every time he is out there, I feel so comfortable because he has caught me for so long. He nearly knows what I am thinking in every situation.

Obviously you want to improve in all facets of your game but what is the one aspect that you want to improve upon to go to Double-A next year?

Brad Brach: I really want to become more consistent with my off-speed pitches - my splitter, slider and change. Although I really want to make either the splitter or slider more of an out pitch.

I probably throw the four-seam fastball over ninety percent of the time. I feel really comfortable with that pitch in any situation against any hitter.

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